A Beer Snob’s Manifesto

Similar to the love of food of the hyper-exacting food critic in Ratatouille, I love beer. If I don’t love it, I don’t drink it. In the US, we’re familiar with wine snobs, scotch snobs, bourbon snobs, and more, but rarely beer snobs. This is not ok.

Arrogant Bastard lobs a good volley with their “you’re not worthy” motto, but that’s not actually true. It’s the beers that aren’t worthy, and we need to raise our expectations.

Maybe you think I’m talking about Bud, Miller, and Coors. I’m not. Those aren’t beer. Those aren’t even TRYING to be beer. For that matter neither are Stella Artois, Corona, or anything else found on the menu at 80% of the beer serving establishments I’ve seen.

Something like Blue Moon (still owned by one of those guys) is at least trying. It doesn’t quite make it in my opinion, but I suppose some people can tolerate it. Otherwise great microbreweries are reduced to having staple beers like New Belgium’s Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, or Anchor Steam at this level of quality to be meat-and-potatoes cash flow providers because of the sorry state of our nation’s beer taste buds. People don’t even know what to ask for – I’ve heard many people think an “ale” or a “lager” is a good enough way to describe what kind of beer they want when it’s actually just a subtle technical difference.

Real beer – beer that is worth drinking – is something like New Belgium’s other beers, Allagash, Dogfish Head, Avery, or lots of good Belgian and German beers. NOW we can start talking about comparative quality levels and taste preferences.

But I don’t just drink real beer. I drink GREAT beer. What is great beer, you ask?

Great beer hard to find. 99% of stores do not carry any. Even fewer restaurants.

Great beer is not an “everyday beer” or a “session beer.” I reject the entire notion. If I’m going to poison my liver, it better be WORTH it.

Great beer almost never comes in a 6 pack. 4 packs are slightly more likely, but in my opinion one doesn’t buy something unique and special in bulk. Brewers making beers intended to be gourmet products have generally adopted wine bottle appearances to market towards people who expect such packaging of high-quality quaffables. If you’ve never bought a 750ml sized bottle of beer, you probably haven’t had great beer.

Great beer costs as much as good wine. If I have to hear one more person whining about paying $10 for a glass of world-class beer at a world-class bar, I will give them a boot to the head. It boggles me how people can be willing to pay so much for smushed grapes and not for something that takes significantly more processing work and cooking skill. I once drank a $200 beer (or rather, a 1 ounce pour from it). It was totally worth it – I’m sure I’ll never drink anything like it again.

Great beer is more varied than any other type of fermented beverage. The differences between a merlot, a zinfandel, and a sauvignon blanc pale next to the differences between an IPA, a doppelbock, and a gueuze. Great beer will often be so malty, bitter, sour, etc that it will be undrinkable to people with different taste preferences (others will of course worship it).

Go drink some great beer. You’re worth it.

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